Friday July 20, 2018

Art gallery under the trees

A PERSONAL invitation was extended to me by Alysa Belonio, an art student of Doña Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School in Silay, to be the guest at the opening of “Obra Maestra: Arte Ipinta.” This is under Roxane Matinong, adviser on the subject Arts and Design.

I accepted the invitation. For me, it is an opportunity to visit again the school where I taught for 11 years… Communication Arts, Theater Arts and Journalism. It could be a chance also to say hello to Rodito Badian, my friend and new principal. He was once my zarzuela actor who played the role of villain Lunok in that Hiligaynon zarzuela, “Leyenda ni Kansilay.” He played so well the “traidor” role that the audience loved to hate him on stage.

Now he is the school principal at the main high school. Under his administration the three buildings are being constructed fast… one old building will soon be demolished for the rise of another building. These buildings are for K to 12’s Junior and Senior High School. The teachers and the students under the not-so-comfortable temporary classrooms have to wait for one or two more years. I still have to find out what caused the delay of the construction before the arrival of Mr. Badian.

I know that Sir Badian is doing his best. He was best in infrastructure in his former school (as principal also). I arrived on time and the art students are so excited in leading me to the venue. “Sir, thank you for coming.” We ended up under the tall mahogany trees. The program started featuring dances and songs with guitar accompaniment.

I was surrounded by Grade 11 students (“Creative Industries: Visual Arts”) and Grade 12 coeds (“Integrating the Elements of Arts”). The members presented the outputs of their classes. My curiosity leads me to comment and ask question when I was given a tour on art exhibit. “This is very romantic because your art gallery is under the trees. I am reminded of the poem ‘The Tree’ by Joyce Kilmer. Where is your classroom?”

The students laughed naughtily. “Sir, we have no classroom. This is our classroom. We are more inspired to do our artwork here. It is fascinating and idyllic… more fun, more sun, more dust, more rain, and more challenges.” I almost agree with them. I am reminded of avant-garde, any art that could be experimental, original, non-traditional, new or untried.

I remembered my Literature class once when I told my students to interpret “Inferno” from the “Divine Comedy” of Dante Alighiere translated by John Ciardi. I told my class to use “a trois crayons” (a three-colored chalk drawing) using automatism, a spontaneous painting or creation without conscious thought or plan. I was shocked to see on the frightening things that was in the mind of Dante (as interpreted by my students) to illustrate hell.

Teacher Roxane and her students explained to me the pieces of art during the tour. Realism is an art style characterized by the realistic depiction of people, places, or things without abstraction or distortion. Cubism is a style of art originating in Paris in the early 20th century and characterized by the reduction of natural forms into geometric patterns.

There was impressionism, a French art style originating in 1870s and characterized by discontinuous brush strokes, vague outlines, and the use of bright colors and light effects. Expressionism is an early 20th century art movement that emphasized the expression of emotion through distorted forms. Landscape is a drawing on painting of natural scenery. We ended in the area where mixed media were used.

That was a job well done and the young artists were able to convince me. In return, they asked me to give my own impression. In their work, there was kitsch, that ordinary, pretentious or sentimental art work that appeals to the masses. In some pieces, eclectism is very dominant. It is a borrowing from other art styles to create a new style. These kids are adventurous in finding their own style.

Some made attempts on monochrome, a painting painted in shades of one color. I see three pieces that endeavor on non-objective art that does not represent anything recognizable. Two students made good performance on portrait, an art representing someone’s face. The daring ones worked on scrambled colors wherein there is the superficially blending of colors that create swirls of different hues, a deliberate effect.

Others could be tenebrism, use of tormented color, silhouette, and scumble. I look forward that someday one of them will try sfumato, the soft blending of outlines in a painting; or anamorphosis, a method of distorted painting in which the subject is unrecognizable unless viewed from a particular angle or distance.

Congratulations young artists of Silay!